17 May 2006

Short rant on "what you're supposed to like"

Overheard from an interview with a Catholic priest (paraphrased): "And don't try to tell me that The Da Vinci Code will at least get people interested in religion and the history of religion. People who read that won't be picking up [insert definitive tome on church history], they'll be picking up another Dan Brown book."

This is the same problem I had with "pops" versions of classical pieces. They don't introduce new listeners to the style and certainly don't act as a stepping stone to understanding how to listen to different styles of music. Ubiquitous music has created music wallpaper; converting classical music to wallpaper does not mean that you've brought it to the masses. If the masses wanted classical music, it wouldn't need to be bastardized.

This is similar-but-different from Scott Spiegelberg's defense of classical neophytes. Exposing a different style to others who are, or may be, interested is always a noble effort. Watering down or mutating the style--whether it's art or music or theater--and saying that it represents the original is just bad form.

I think that this is where much of the conflict occurs. Priests are getting pelted with questions based on an inane theory that an uneducated public falls for, despite the fact that the theory is present in a work of fiction. You can't blame the priests (or anyone interested in history for that matter) for being frustrated. And when someone says Unsteady volume = Most annoying thing about classical music, they're asking classical music to be something it's not. It's sort of like wanting to look at Rembrandt painting's only if they have red in them. Sure, some do, but does that request have anything to do with looking at art? The volume "problem" could be solved by listening to some Baroque music--which the listener would then allow to drop into the background and they might as well just be listening to white noise. Is that really introducing them to the music? The art "problem" could be solved by simply purchasing some crap corporate art, designed as decoration, that fits a color scheme.

Ultimately, Art is larger than one person's opinion; and yet it can't be all things to all people. Those who want to restrict Art will invariably yell "relativists!" and "postmodernists!" when confronted by a more encompassing definition. Conversely, those who try to open all Art to all people will invariably yell "elitist!" when confronted with a more narrow definition. Conveniently, I'll put myself on the side that fits best whatever my current argument is. I'm a postmodern elitist.

[ posted by sstrader on 17 May 2006 at 12:38:54 PM in Language & Literature ]